There was a lot of great pop music in the 1960s, and Birmingham psychedelic rock band The Move are overlooked among the rush. They never made an impression in the US where the band they morphed into, Electric Light Orchestra, were much more successful. A lot of British bands left their best material off studio albums, and only put it on singles. The Beatles had enough great material to get away with it, but The Move hurt their album legacy by never including gems like ‘Blackberry Way’ and ‘Night of Fear’ on LP.
Perhaps due to this policy, The Move were a very successful singles band, especially early in their career. Five of the first six Move singles placed in the UK top 5, with ‘Blackberry Way’ reaching #1.
The early Move single that failed to chart was ‘Wild Tiger Woman’. Released in August 1968 it was heavier than most of the band’s material, influenced by Jimi Hendrix. It was banned from BBC Radio One due to the line “tied to the bed, she’s waiting to be fed”. The group later stated that they should have released the single’s b-side, ‘Omnibus’, as the a-side.
‘Omnibus’ is enjoyably quirky, and distinctly English. Omnibus was originally the word for a large horse-drawn carriage, and the word bus is a contraction of omnibus. ‘Omnibus’ is sophisticated, with unexpected melodic twists, while the closing guitar solo hints at Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’. Like most of The Move’s material, ‘Omnibus’ was written by Roy Wood – along with The Move’s hits, he’s perhaps best known for the Wizzard’s seasonal glam song ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’.
The combination of loud guitars, pop melody, and vocal harmonies are surprisingly similar to the records that Cheap Trick would make almost a decade later. Cheap Trick are clearly fans of The Move – they’ve released their own covers of ‘California Man’, ‘Brontosaurus’, and ‘Blackberry Way’.